GIRGIS (1876-1951)

Reformer, educator, preacher. He was born in Cairo and joined the Coptic of al-Saqqayin, which Patriarch IV had established. He was educated in the Clerical College of the Coptic Church and became a professor of theology from 1898 in the same college, and then its principal from 1918 until his death. He published al-Karma (1906-1923), a weekly magazine that radiates his teachings.

At the turn of the 20th century, he founded the Sunday system to teach Coptic children the Christian faith. Girgis played a key role in the introduction of the study of the Christian religion to Coptic students in government schools and provided the Ministry of Education with a two-volume manual as a teacher’s guidebook. He strove for the reform of the and succeeded in persuading Patriarch V (1874-1927) to take steps to limit the ordination of priests to graduates of the Clerical College.

Girgis is the author of numerous articles and books in Arabic related to the theology and liturgy of the Coptic Church. His most significant work, entitled Practical Means for Coptic Reformation: Aspirations and Dreams Which Could Be Realized in Ten Years (in Arabic), appeared in Cairo in 1942 and was reprinted by the Sunday Schools Press in 1993. Many of the disciples of Girgis continued his work, in particular as Sunday leaders, including the present patriarch of the Coptic Church, Shenouda III, who highly appreciates him.